PUSILLANIMOUS PRELATE

One of the more dramatic moments of the recent Reform Not Raids Summit in Phoenix occurred on the second day of the national conference on immigration, shortly after moderator Danny Ortega opened up the floor to a volatile debate about whether the Phoenix diocese of the Roman Catholic Church was doing enough locally to combat the prevailing anti-immigrant bigotry here in Sand Land.

A couple of folks rose immediately in defense of the church, mentioning good work it does in this regard and suggesting that more was under way behind the scenes by Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who has refused to publicly take on Sheriff Joe Arpaio as the sheriff's deputies terrorize the immigrant community in Maricopa County and put the fear of Yahweh into Hispanic U.S. citizens, as well.

But then Somos America president Hector Yturralde rose and asked the question that put the onus squarely on the bishop's mitred noggin.

"How many people [here] right now work in the Catholic Church, in the diocese's office?" he asked of those present.

Pause. Crickets chirping.

"No representation," observed Yturralde. "Thank you."

The silence that met Yturralde's query mirrors Olmsted's muteness as Arpaio and his ski-masked 287(g)-trained thugs separate mothers from their children — as in the case of Ciria Lopez-Pacheco in January — and sometimes rough them up to the point of breaking their arms — as in the case of Hispanic hausfrau Maria del Carmen Garcia-Martinez, whose elbow was smashed while in MCSO custody.

Where is Olmsted as the MCSO mistreats his parishioners, breaks up families, and marches chained Hispanic prisoners through the streets like circus critters? Polishing his crosier? Laundering his purple robes?

"Somos America for the last year and a half has tried to get the bishop to make public statements about immigration," Yturralde told the summit's participants, noting that the only response he's gotten is from some of the bishop's flunkies paying him a visit and telling him that Olmsted really is doing something on immigration. Just not where the eye can see.

"As a leader, you have to stand up in public," said Yturralde. "And you have to state where the church — especially where the bishop of the diocese of Phoenix — stands. We have not seen that."

"He stands with Arpaio!" shouted someone in the crowd, to immediate applause.

Indeed, the bishop's relative inaction is in itself a green light to Arpaio, who is Catholic, that the church will not oppose him. Even though almost half of Olmsted's parish is Hispanic. Problem is, it's mostly the right-wing Catholic ofays who drop the most loot in the collection basket. And Olmsted is fearful of doing anything more than writing a letter here and there, talking about how immigrants are people, too, gosh darn it.

On other issues, however, the padre's gloves are off. In the past, he banned then-Governor Janet Napolitano from speaking on church property because she wasn't anti-abortion. During the last election, he campaigned in favor of Prop 102, the gay-marriage ban, going so far as to have a video message played in churches, where he argued against same-sexers' getting hitched.

In his latest dumbass political move, Olmsted blasted the University of Notre Dame president for inviting President Barack Obama to give the commencement address at the private, Roman Catholic college. Obama should be verboten, according to Olmsted and others, because he supports a woman's right to choose, as well as stem cell research.

Thing is, last time I checked, Notre Dame was still just outside frickin' South Bend, Indiana — whereas Joe Arpaio is in the bishop's backyard.

"The bishop doesn't want to get into personalities," the diocese's flack, Jim Dwyer, told me for a column item I did in September on the bishop's failure to protect his flock.

What Dwyer meant to say was, the bishop doesn't want to get into personalities when the personality involved is Joe Arpaio, or even Joe's partner in Hispanic persecutions, County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Not all Catholic Church muck-a-mucks lack huevos like Olmsted. L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony has been a two-fisted advocate for the undocumented, even going so far as to march in some pro-immigrant protests. Last year, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin demanded an end to ICE raids in his community. And just recently, Chicago's archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, called on Obama to put immigration reform on the front-burner, and cease all immigration raids.

"There is a darkness cast upon many families living among us who have been caught between the need for cheap labor and badly broken immigration laws," George told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We . . . are called to be that light for those forced onto the shadows."

Maybe the power of his prayer worked some mojo. Not long after George took his stance, the Washington Post reported that Napolitano, now Homeland Security secretary, has ordered a delay in planned ICE raids pending further review.

Yeah, yeah, Olmsted's penned letters to the editor on immigration, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a group asked for a moratorium on the raids last year. But this doesn't let Olmsted off the hook, particularly when so many Latinos in Maricopa County are Catholic and are suffering under Arpaio's lash.

Often, those here illegally are the most humble and devoted to the Catholic Church, and their children are directly affected by Arpaio's anti-brown policies, edicts that will continue even if Napolitano permanently bans ICE raids.

CHICKEN JOE

Just how many deputies does it take to protect Sheriff Joe Arpaio? 50? 100? 200? Yep, when Arpaio returned to Guadalupe to address the town council recently, almost a year after terrorizing the town with his infamous immigration sweep, he brought an overwhelming show of force for protection.

I arrived hours before Joe's showing because I was already hearing rumors that the MCSO was doing an anti-immigrant sweep in town. It may not have been an official sweep, like the one on April 3 and 4 of last year, but (at times) nearly every other car passing through the crossroads of Guadalupe Road and Avenida del Yaqui was a black-and-yellow sheriff's vehicle. A bomb-squad van was parked next to town hall. On a vacant lot at the center of town, a massive mobile command center van was parked, with other sheriff's vehicles nearby.

The display sent a definite message: The sheriff was in town, and the town was locked down. The Guadalupe Mercado, the open-air market near the town hall was empty. One merchant who did not wish to be identified, said business was way down.

"I'm closing up early," he told me. "People are scared, so they're just staying home. This is killing my business."

Inside the town's main building, long before Joe showed up, a team of at least 15 plainclothes MCSO deputies wandered the halls. Behind the building, in the alley leading to the MCSO's substation, as many as 20 marked and unmarked cars were jammed. It was through here, via a passage that leads to the council chambers, that Joe sneaked in to address the council members. And it was back through this alley that he amscrayed afterward.

Before the council meeting, Joe's top PR flack, the gun moll-ish Lisa Allen, was practically running the place, moving things around, telling reporters where to sit or stand. The MCSO had complete control of the facility, scanning everyone who entered the building with metal detectors.

This kind of overkill was the first thing Joe was questioned about after his shuck-and-jive about moving forward and putting the past behind them. Council member Margie Garcia queried Joe on why he needed to bring an invading force to her burg.

"Why did you come to the extreme of bringing the bomb squad, and all this other equipment that you brought here?" she asked before lecturing Arpaio about the town's religious ceremonies. "During this period of 40 days, the people here go into a prayer circle, because it's Lent. This type of thing [you're doing] is very . . . stressful to the community."

Garcia pressed Joe to promise not to bring a similar show of force in the future.

"That's not a promise I'm willing to make," Arpaio responded. "We received intelligence that there would be hundreds of demonstrators here . . . I am responsible for the safety of this town. If I have to bring 200 deputies [and] posse to protect this town, I'm going to do it."

Actually, 200 troops (including posse alter kockers) are exactly what Joe had in Guadalupe that Thursday. There were not nearly that many protesters. I counted about 25 on the side of the nativists, and about 50 to 75 on the anti-Joe side. By 9 p.m., most citizens of Guadalupe were safely in their homes. Those unlucky enough to be out were getting pulled over by MCSO vehicles, almost in a replay of last year.

Not everyone was intimidated. Though the nativists were heavily armed, and had the love of the MCSO, community activist Andrew Sanchez and his family led a small coalition of groups waving signs that said "Stop Unconstitutional Practices," "We R Human," and, my fave, a stencil of Sheriff Joe saying, "I Arrest Pregnant Moms." Guadalupe resident William Robles got in some of the nativists' faces and told them where to go take a leap.

The nativists were mostly the usual scraggly members of United for a Sovereign America, Riders U.S.A., and Riders Against Illegal Aliens. But there were a few new faces. I engaged some of these newbies in civil conversation and explained facts unknown to them, such as: Guadalupe's residents are almost all either Yaqui, of Mexican descent, or some mix of the two — and they are all U.S. citizens whose families have been in the town for generations.

A few were perplexed by this info, including a tall lady named Melissa who claimed she was of Cherokee descent. Hopefully, I gave them something to think about. Ditto for my über-Republican friend Bob Haran, whom I like despite the fact that we both think the other's nuts on the subject of immigration.

Inside the council chambers, reporters may have outnumbered residents. Andrew Sanchez was present when Arpaio showed around 7:30 p.m., and before Arpaio could speak, he rose and yelled that all the council members should walk out on the sheriff. When none of them did, Sanchez, whose family has been retaliated against by Arpaio's men because of Sanchez's activism, left the room, telling the council members, "You know what it takes to get a recall."

(The next day, Sanchez told me that two MCSO deputies went to his house after his appearance at the meeting to serve a warrant on someone who hadn't lived there in two years' time. Sanchez says he believes the MCSO just wanted him to know the deputies could come over whenever they please. This is a continuation of a pattern of harassment detailed in Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey's March 19 story "Are Your Papers in Order?")

As for Arpaio, he gave 'em the can't-we-all-just-get-along spiel. He thanked the council for inviting him, even though the invitation had been extended only by Mayor Frankie Montiel, his flunky on the council. Arpaio made at stab at being civil, even slightly conciliatory. Well, at least for Joe.

"Setting politics aside," Arpaio told the council from the podium. "I do understand I might not be the most popular sheriff in town. But we've been here many, many years in Guadalupe . . . In my heart, I cannot leave this town to the mercy of the criminals."

Mighty big of ol' Joe. Especially after he had the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors kill the town's law enforcement contract because ex-Mayor Rebecca Jimenez stood up to him last April. Only after newly installed Mayor Montiel kowtowed to Arpaio, begging him to come back, did Joe agree to have the contract reinstated.

I don't buy the idea that Montiel explored other options yet failed to find a replacement. Several of council members, including former Vice Mayor Roy Perez, have told me they felt other options were never fully explored.

Nor do I think Montiel will seek a replacement for the MCSO now, though the town's $1.2 million law-enforcement contract is set to expire in 2010. Montiel is a die-hard Arpaio supporter, having called the sheriff's 2008 sweep of his town "a good day for law enforcement," as he spoke to the Board of Supervisors last year.

During the council meeting, Montiel was obsequious to the point of making audience members nauseous, coming to Joe's defense, praising him for agreeing to talk to them, and interrupting other council members if they were critical of Joe.

Council members Lupita Avelar, Roy Perez, and Margie Garcia all had tough questions and comments for the sheriff. But it was Jimenez who drew the most blood.

"The optimist in me wants to believe that the olive branch you're extending is for real," Jimenez told Arpaio. "But the realist in me is believing that it's coming up on the one-year anniversary [of Arpaio's 2008 sweep], and now you're under federal investigation, and this is [putting] a positive light on you . . . What do you say to that?"

Joe was caught off-guard. He insisted that his visit to Guadalupe had been finalized long before the announcement of a Justice Department probe. He wallowed for a moment in fit of self-rationalization.

"I know how the federal government operates," stated Arpaio. "I've been saying for a year, come on down. [In] every newscast, [I say] bring the FBI down, bring the feds down. We have nothing to hide. I welcome the federal government. Think I'm concerned about it?"

That's good, Joe, because the DOJ did have an observer from L.A. present Thursday, paying close attention to the horse-and-pony show. Of course, maybe that explains why Joe was on his best behavior, thus proving council member Jimenez's point.

BIRD ALERT

Three guesses what's new about The Bird. C'mon, you just read the damn thing; can't you figure it out? Sheesh, am I Alex Trebek, here? Okay, I'll give it to you: It's no longer written in Bird-ese. The first-person singular makes its first appearance in my column — at least when not enclosed in quotes.

The column will still be called The Bird. And my blog will still be referred to as Feathered Bastard. Also, despite the absence of phrases like "taloned taliwacker," "winged wordsmith," "plumed penman," I will still be pooping on all those worthy of my excretions. However, I may have to fling them, monkey-style, instead of dropping them from on high.

Why, you may ask, am I ditching the wildly successful third-person conceit? Just time to change the game, folks. Switch things up a bit. Plus, the idiots I'm reaming in print are sometimes too moronic to grok insults issued in Bird language. And believe you me, I want them to understand every word.

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17 comments
Pistachio
Pistachio

This Bishop approved David Ostler now in Sun City West. Ron claims that he was interrogated and/or coached for hours on end before taking the stand and that by the time he took the stand he was so confused he didn’t know whether he was coming or going. To top it off, he was in there without a lawyer! It was quite a dirty mess. I have talked to Ron since, and, with his permission, have our conversation on tape. Ron Leroux did not, as is claimed by so many, recant. But, alas, thanks to his stint on the stand at the inquiry, he has lost all credibility. For the record though, Ron Leroux never once recanted his sex abuse allegations against “Father” Eugene Larocque. And, for the record and for those who know nothing of this, Ron Leroux admitted to a CBC reporter that he himself had been part of the paedophile ring (scroll down to “Breach of Trust).Pistachio

Pauline44
Pauline44

Olmsted you are one dirty scum bag to place a known pervert David Ostler who is on the SNAP list of child abusers in Sun City West Az.

Daniel
Daniel

Just because a group calls themselves "We are America", doesn't mean they are. It should be called "Somos la reconquista del norte de Mexico". While I'm on the subject of names, how is it that "La Raza" is not recognized as a racist organization (presumably against non-Aztecs, i.e. "gringos")?

Nicole
Nicole

According the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007, 59% of people in Maricopa County identified themselves as caucasian. Does "Sheriff Joe" reflect these kind of statistics in his hiring of sheriff's deputies? Is there nearly 60% caucasian deputies patrolling the streets? Or is it much more. I have lived here for almost a year and I have only seen one hispanic police officer. I don't know the statistics but it doesn't look good. I would like to know how much of an "equal opportunity employer" the sheriff's department is. Just something to look into.

david saint
david saint

mark:

1: 13% are hispanic in prisons in the US2: its the bishops job to "protect his flock", and that means let loose on those that prey on people as their partaking in freedom of religion.

3: did you know the actual crime of entering the country illegally is actually less than a traffic ticket? thats right, its a civil law. that said, its pretty hypocrtical of us now to paint targets on their backs when just a decade ago most people didnt give a crap at the time. Even joe said in 06 that "im not going after the small fish, the gardner types, the hard working type, im only after the smugglers and dangereous ones"..my, how racism can change a politicians word, and its not his racism its morons like you that hes playing a tune so you can dance to....

harold hawkes
harold hawkes

he will not go against as one of the priests who did a hit and run got nothing so they owe him pay back, the story took the attn off the LEWIS PRISON EMBARRASSMENT . maybe even ole joe is afraid of his maker and putting a priest in pink undies and tent city well- ya know -----would be like hangng your dick out in a whore house.

Great coverage AGAIN Byrd.

Mark
Mark

Dear Mr. Stephen Lemons,Illegal aliens (illegal immigrants) are here ILLEGALLY. Illegal aliens are �not documented� so they do not pay into the tax system, but they reap the benefits from multiple social programs. What is the percentage of Illegal aliens in our correctional system? What percentage of inmates was convicted for violent crimes? Without these criminals (illegal immigrants) receiving free room, board, and medical care how would this impact our county and state budget? With regards to a women�s right to choose: What if the baby about to be murdered is female? Don�t they deserve the right to choose? What act did the innocent baby do to warrant being executed? When does life begin? Some say life begins at 40? With regards to Bishop Olmsted, he was working in two states, seven days a week, for 12-18 months (I do not know the exact length). Please list ALL of the projects that he is working on. Not just the projects that you know about, but ALL of the projects. He has made huge accomplishments with regards to the Hispanic community. What is your definition of �Hispanic Community�? Is it an individual with an Hispanic surname? But this individual does not participate in the Hispanic culture? Please define your terms before making these broad accusations. In part of your story you stated, �Where is Olmsted as the MCSO mistreats his parishioners, breaks up families, and marches chained Hispanic prisoners through the streets like circus critters? Polishing his crosier? Laundering his purple robes?� Where are the Rabbi�s, Elders of the Mormon Church, and the preachers from the evangelical faith communities? Why did you not mention these individuals in your story?Further in your story you stated that, �the bishop's relative inaction is in itself a green light to Arpaio�. In another story of yours The Bird Trumpets Redflex�s Demise in Pinal County and Tweets About Nova M�s Move Left on the Dial, Published on January 06, 2009 at 5:09pm, you stated that, �MCSO vehicles even menaced a confirmation ceremony for Catholic children presided over by Bishop Thomas Olmsted at Our Lady of Guadalupe on the second day of the sweep.� Which statement is true? You have contradicted yourself.In the future Mr. Lemons, I hope that you will get all of your facts straight and appropriately define your terms when making broad, all encompassing statements. I would be surprised to receive a reply.

Mark

Bill Smith
Bill Smith

I find it very sad that a paper that I have long enjoyed is now using ugly racist terms in its reporting. The use of the racist term 'ofay' to describe a group of white people the author doesn't like is very offensive to me and all others who distain racism.

Harry
Harry

he had to go here because "he wasnt invited to washington" whaaaa. no one wants him around. And I dont mena fear, they know he has gone off the deep end long time ago.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

P.S. I've been busy lately but wanted to check in. It appears that your blog is going well (as usual) and I see that your latest column in the print edition of Phoenix New Times includes three different threads, all of interest to loyal readers, including your decision to eschew third person references and the delightful expressions invoked in personifying them. I, for one, will greatly miss your use of prosopopoeia and the folksy idiom and humor developed by you in connection with your alter ego.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Thank you, Mr. Lemons, for this exposure of sanctimoniousness on the part of local church officials. Apparently, however, there are forces at work, even within the Roman Catholic Church, which are concerned about social justice, just as there were during the 1980s when the Sanctuary Movement involving Central American refugees was taking place. Regarding the KINO Border Initiative:

"Over the past six years, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has identified comprehensive immigration reform as a major public policy priority within the Church. In 2003, U.S. Catholic Bishops collaborated with Mexican Bishops to promulgate the joint pastoral letter on migration, Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope.

"In 2005, the USCCB was joined by the U.S. Jesuit Conference and many other religious congregations and organizations to sponsor and promote �Justice for Immigrants,� a national campaign to raise awareness about Church teaching on human rights, migration and immigration reform, and to advocate at the local and national levels for comprehensive immigration reform.

"The Society of Jesus seeks to respond to the call of Christ who is present among those who are suffering from the consequences of contemporary immigration policy, border enforcement efforts, and the reality of undocumented migration, apprehension, detention and deportation.

"The social and economic forces that are driving these crises are bi-national forces, and any genuine attempt to be present to these crises must be bi-national in its approach. Moreover, the Society of Jesus wishes to be a genuine help to those committed men, women, parishes, and organizations that are already engaged in service to people and communities affected by the consequences of these forces. Ultimately, the Jesuits strive to be �in solidarity with the least and with all.�

http://www.jrsusa.org/kino/

Jesuitical? Perhaps. I can't personally validate the group, being an atheist myself, but they recently held a forum at ASU West dealing with the issue, and are perhaps worth checking out. Their motto is: "I'm migration : a civil dialog begins with me" (with a peace symbol dotting the "i" in "migration"). Solidarity is of the highest importance in advancing common goals. Given the importance of the Catholic Church among Mexican immigrants, and its bona fides among the American establishment, a coalition linking secular progressives with their religious brethren could be particularly effective.

Dave in Mohave
Dave in Mohave

Olmstead is grandstanding as much as Arpaio. He can lecture everyone about reproductive choice, but I did not see him lecturing on treating poor immigrants like living humans, I did not see the man lecturing Bush about torture or the death penalty. Olmstead is salting parishes with right wing nutjob priests, who lecture people about form and reproduction and talk little about human compassion and human dignity.

Dave in Mohave
Dave in Mohave

Olmstead is grandstanding as much as Arpaio. He can lecture everyone about reproductive choice, but I did not see him lecturing on treating poor immigrants like living humans, I did not see the man lecturing Bush about torture or the death penalty. Olmstead is salting parishes with right wing nutjob priests, who lecture people about form and reproduction and talk little about human compassion and human dignity.

david saint
david saint

im wondering just how many times they have used a "warrant" to harass those that oppose joe..thats something to look into..but im wondering if Sanchez has talked to DOJ yet, if not he should because thats bs..i do hope though that the DOJ official, who looked either hispanic or maybe phillipino/asian (wonder if he got stopped lol), saw the circus for what it was and reported it to his superiors. that kind of waste of resources is exactly the reason MCSO is CONSTANTLY overbudget year after year. Its also further cause for a complete and full audit of MCSO to finally happen AFTER 13 YEARS!! im calling andy out on that one, if he really wants to save us tax payers money that needs to be done ASAP to show us..his lack of demanding it just shows he doesnt really care about our interests, but rather his own career. How did that feel by the way, a judge basically calling you an idiot when he said "any rational person would know you cant defend someone, and then use that information to prosecute them with"...yeah, lets see why he would have said that, attorney client priveledge, conflict of interest......I like that sanchez kid though, and i hope he follows through by getting that coward Monteil fired much the same they did to Jiminez for standing up for them last year. Franky, your an insult to your own people and a disgrace.

Daniel
Daniel

On 3 - it ought to be a criminal law and people should have cared in the 90s. That whole decade was a time of extravagance, negligence and irresponsibility. I'm not saying that those who already broke the civil should be prosecuted in criminal court (which, of course, is unconstitutional); but if it did become a criminal law, perhaps the border would be easier to enforce because potential future offenders would know they risked being tried as the criminals they are.

Mcyrnek
Mcyrnek

Bishop Olmested did't care who he assigned to the Luke chapel but SNAP cared, Fr. Schultz is his name, no investigation of Schultz just like the pervert Ostler in Sun City West both are known child abusers. SNAP has Ostler on the watch list.

Betty Boo

Gail Mokry Shoultes
Gail Mokry Shoultes

@ Daniel.....well it ISN't a crime so maybe you should try and get it changed. You comment is full of coulda, woulda, shoulda and nothing of real value.

 
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